Monday, February 23, 2015

Fasting according to Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov

Entering this Lentern period we are called to fast, not only from food but fast spiritually and bodily. Many explanations exist in regards to the fasting tradition of the Orthodox Church. Below, Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov, from the Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptish (England), gives his views on fasting, stating:

“How can we think of Great Lent without being afraid? At the beginning of my life on Mount Athos, Great lent was for me a great feast: of preparing oneself to receive the revelation of our resurrection. If we welcome this abstinence from food with inspired prayer, then not only will our body be able to bear it easily, but many illnesses will be healed. Those who are blessed with good health, and can abstain from food for some weeks, reach a state of spiritual bliss. The passions are calmed. A vivid feeling of peace and the presence of God accompanies prayer. It is unfortunate that nowadays we often lack this endurance. Nowadays, it is not possible to impose the rules of the Church to their full degree. Since you are all different from each other, fast each one according to your measure.
The trouble with fixed rules is that they appease the consciences of those who can keep them, and give them the feeling that they are saved. That is very naïve. The Pharisees, the ascetics and theologians of the Old Testament, fasted too, but this was not enough. Christ said: ‘Unless you exceed the virtues of the Pharisees, you cannot be saved.’”[1]  

[1] Sakharov, Archimandrite Sophrony, Words of Life, (Essex, Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 2010), pp. 34-35. 

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